levantia title



Female dress

The Empress

A senior court lady

Traditional dress

Affluent casual

“Ethnic” style

Theatre costume

A “Good Woman”

byzantine women's costume

Later Roman art does not show women with the frequency or diversity it does men. Very often the women who are shown are there often to be paradigms of modesty and piety. This picture is one in that mould. This outfit might be what a modest and pious woman of the peasant class would have been wearing, although realistically it would be rare for her dress to be quite so plain. In this paradigm such a woman would not have been seen in public without a cape. Her simple headdress was called βηλάριον / vêlarion by the middle Byzantine period.

For discussion of women’s clothing in Rômania and its pictorial and literary sources see the author’s article, ‘Propriety, Practicality and Pleasure: the parameters of women’s dress 1000 – 1204’, in Lynda Garland (ed) Byzantine Women: Varieties of Experience 800–1200, Ashgate, 2006, pp. 41– 75, and book, By the Emperor’s Hand: Court Regalia and Military Dress in the Eastern Roman Empire, Frontline Books, Barnsley 2015.

See ‘Affluent casual’ for a more realistic version of this outfit.